Excellerations™ Get Up and Go! Dice

I am passionate about putting into teacher’s and children’s hands materials that promote physical activity and learning.  Excellerations™ Get Up and Go! Dice does just that and is a quality product from Discount School Supply®.

The Excellerations™ Get Up and Go! Dice set includes:

  • 2 dice with pockets on all sides
  • 20 different movement activity cards
  • 12 numeral cards (2 each of the numbers 1-6)
  • 12 dice dot cards (2 each of the dots numbering 1-6)
  • 12 blank cards

The two large seven-inch vinyl-covered foam dice have pockets on all six sides that hold activity and number cards.  Insert six different activity cards in each of the pockets on one die.  On the other die put the numeral cards, either showing the dots or the numeral.  Depending on the developmental skills level of the children, I use the numeral cards for numbers 1, 2, and 3 and the dot cards for numbers 4, 5, and 6.  Young children may not recognize the larger numerals, but they are usually able to count the dots or “pips.”  Did you know that the dots on dice are called “pips?”  The word “pip” commonly means a “spot” or a “speck,” and perhaps that’s why the dots on dice, as well as dominoes, are called pips.  Don’t shy away from the big word, i.e., “pips” for “dots.”  It is very common for adults to simplify their language when talking to young children.  Throwing in a new word now and then is a great opportunity to build vocabulary! If you’re going to explain what something is, you might as well use the proper word the first time. Children may not always pick up on those big words, but they certainly won’t if they don’t ever hear them.  So go ahead, use words like “identical” instead of “same” and “pips” instead of “dots.” You’ll be surprised at what the children will pick up on when you give them the chance!

kids stretching

Here is a fun favorite activity that I like to play indoors or outside.  You’ll find more ideas in the Activity Guide that comes with it.

Roll the Dice for Exercise

How to play:

  1. Sit children in a large circle.
  2. One child is chosen to roll the dice.
  3. Child with dice stands up and rolls the dice into the middle of the circle.
  4. The child identifies the activity to be performed and the number of times to perform the activity by counting the pips or stating the number shown on the die.
  5. All children in the circle stand up and perform the activity that is lead by the child who rolled the dice.  All the children are to count as they perform the movement.
  6. When finished, the child who had rolled the dice gives it to another child who continues the game by rolling the dice and leading the group in the movement activity that is shown on the movement die and counting the number of times they are to do the activity (as shown on the number die).
  7. The game ends when every child has had a chance to “Roll the Dice for Exercise.”

Suggestions & Variations:

  • If the child who rolled the die has difficulty counting, let the group count the dots or pips out loud on the number die, as the child points to them.
  • Take pictures of the children doing a favorite movement activity (i.e., jumping jacks, jogging in place, etc.) and adhere it to a blank card.  This personalizes it to the group of children in your classroom.
  • This activity is also a great one to use when children are in transition –i.e., waiting for the bus or their group’s turn, etc.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes:

  1. Physical activity: any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure
  2. Gross motor skills: using the large muscles of the arms, legs and trunk
  3. Cooperative play: games and activities that the participants play together rather than against one another
  4. Listening skills: ability to follow verbal directions
  5. Language development: speaking, communicating
  6. Mathematics: number sense of quantity and counting; one-to-one correspondence
  7. Social emotional development: taking turns; promotes children’s self-esteem and confidence

Get active, get moving, get healthy…and start rolling the Excellerations™ Get Up and Go! Dice.  Everyone will be a winner!

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A Whale of a Role Model!

I feel very fortunate to live near the ocean in Santa Cruz, CA.  It continually inspires me to venture outside and enjoy all that it affords.  It is a place of beauty, incredible wonders, and home to the greatest diversity of life on earth.  This week, humpback whales can be spotted not far from the beach.  They are joining herds of sea lions and flocks of birds to dine on the abundant anchovies that are present in the bay.  In the photo below taken by Chris Elmenhurst, you can see a mother humpback teaching her baby calf how to feed on the tiny green fish. The whale mother and her baby will share the strongest of bonds for one year with the mother preparing and strengthening her newborn for the long migration up the coast.  It’s common to see a baby trying to perform a good breach over and over and then have mom come up unexpectedly to show junior how it should be done.

Photo by Chris Edinger at Surf the Spot - click photo to view more photos.

Photo by Chris Elmhurst at Surf the Spot – click photo to view more photos.

While I was watching the humpbacks, I also spotted a mother and son exercising together on the beach.  I couldn’t help but notice the correlation between the mother whale with her calf and the mother and son lifting weights.  Just as the mother whale role models for her baby, so does a physically active parent role model for her child.

sharron whale 2

Parents who encourage and endorse physical activities in their own lives are more likely to pass on these good habits to their children.  Research shows that children who exercise do better in school, control themselves better, and have fewer behavior issues. More good news is that children who lead active lifestyles are likely to remain active as adults and pass on their healthy lifestyle habits to their own children.

Consider the following benefits of regular physical activity for growing children:

  • Promotes healthy growth and development
  • Builds strong bones and muscles
  • Improves cardiovascular fitness
  • Increases flexibility
  • Improves balance, coordination and strength
  • Assists with the development of gross motor and fine motor skills
  • Provides the opportunity to develop fundamental movement skills
  • Helps to establish connections between different parts of the brain
  • Improves concentration and thinking skills
  • Provides opportunities to develop social skills and make friends
  • Reduces feelings of depression, stress, and anxiety
  • Improves sleep
  • Promotes psychological well-being, including higher levels of self-esteem and self-
  • concept

Whether you’re a parent or a teacher, be a role model. Show children physical activity is important by enthusiastically participating in it!

The Mirror Game!

sharron mirror game 1

Why It’s a Great Game!

Objectives & Learning Outcomes

Social Emotional Development:

  • Learning to cooperate
  • Accepting others’ ideas
  • Taking turns

Cognitive Development:

  • Replicating physically what the eyes see (developing visual sensitivity to change)
  • Developing focus, attention, and concentration
  • Learning about the concept of mirror reflection

Physical Development:

  • Practicing a variety of nonlocomotor movements
  • Developing spatial awareness (an awareness of space, relative distance, and relationships with space–experiencing personal space)

sharron mirror game 2

How to Play

Set Up and Materials

  • Available indoor or outdoor space
  • Children paired up and scattered in the space
  • Music
  • If desired, demonstrate the concept of reflection using a mirror

sharron mirror game 3

Directions

  1. Partners face each other at arm’s distance apart.
  2. Ask one child to be the “leader” and perform simple movements in place and his partner (the second child) to imitate the leader as a mirror reflection.  For example, if the leader  waves his right arm, the “mirror” waves his left arm in the same way, duplicating the movement as if he is looking into a mirror.
  3. Start the music–fast or slow.  The use of slow background music might help keep the partners moving slowly at first.
  4. Go from simple (only one body part moving) to complex (more than one body part moving at the same time).
  5. When the music stops, partners change roles, with the leader becoming the mirror and the mirror becoming the leader.

Suggestions & Variations

  • Children will mirror better if they watch each other’s eyes rather than extremities.
  • Ask the leader to move slowly enough so the mirror can follow.
  • Have the players do the activity while sitting.
  • Combine the activity with streamers or scarves.

sharron mirror game 4

Discount School Supply® Product Recommendations:
Rainbow Dancing Wrist Bands (RNBW)
Juggling Scarves (JUGGLE)
Daily Fitness 4 CD Set (MOVEMENT)
Circle Time Fun Set – 3 CDs (CTIMEFUN)
Hamilton™ AM/FM CD Player (BOOMBOX)
Look At Me Mirror Kit (LOOKATME)

Physical Activity for Children with Special Needs

childrunningwadult

A child with special needs is one who requires some form of special care due to physical, mental, emotional or health reasons. Children with special needs are also commonly referred to as children with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a child with a disability more specifically as one who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits the child’s ability to care for herself or himself, perform manual tasks, or engage in any other “major life activity,” such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, or learning, in an age-appropriate manner.

Children with disabilities are more similar than different from other children.  Avoid becoming too focused on a child’s disability.  Treat each child as a whole person.  Every child needs to feel successful and capable. Children with Aspergers, autism or attention deficit hyperactive disorder often have the uncontrollable need to move and physical activity can help them learn to do so appropriately.  Most young children need to and want to move frequently and all children benefit while promoting physical fitness (muscular strength and endurance, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility), developing motor skills  (run, jump, hop, walk, gallop, skip, throw, catch, kick, bounce, strike, stretch, bend, twist, turn, balance), improving coordination, and building self-confidence.  The ways you include a child with physical differences or impairments will benefit all the children in your care.  Here are some strategies for inclusion.

  • Modify the environment
  • Modify the task for the individual
  • Use safe, soft objects
  • Simplify instructions
  • Give visual, oral, and kinesthetic cues
  • Provide plenty of repetition
  • Have role models
  • Use communication systems
  • Eliminate elimination games
  • Minimize waiting time

The primary reason that children participate in active play is to have fun, and the key reason they quit is a lack of fun.  With that being said, here is an activity that everyone can get in on the fun!

 Constructors & Destroyers

What:

20-30 Colored Cones
Portable iPod/CD Player
Music Suggestions: Taking Care of Business by Randy Bachman, Barefootin’ by Jimmy Buffett, Footloose by Kenny Loggins

Where:

Outdoor space (grass area or playground, etc.) or large indoor space (gym, multi-purpose room, etc.)

Who:

Children who want to move and play!

How:

  1. Set up the cones randomly spaced about 4-6 feet from each other.
  2. Knock over about one-third of those cones.  Space out those that are upright and those that are on their side.
  3. Organize the children into two groups.  One group is designated as the Constructors and the other group is designated as the Destroyers.  It is better to have a few more Constructors than Destroyers!
  4. The Constructors “job” is to stand up all the cones that were knocked over.
  5. The Destroyers “job” is to GENTLY tip over the cones that are standing up.  Make sure to remind the children to be gentle and only use the palms of their hands to touch the cones.  No kicking or throwing of the cones is allowed.
  6. The game begins (players move through the space doing their job) when the music starts and ends when the music stops.
  7. When the music stops, begin the game again but this time let the Constructors be Destroyers and Destroyers become the Constructors.

Discount School Supply® Product Recommendations:
Colored Cones – set of 10 (SETC – $16.99)
Hamilton® AM/FM, CD and MP3 Player (BEATBOX – $158.99)

Animal Hopping {Really Jumping!} Sacks

The old potato sack “ain’t” what it used to be.  This version of the classic potato sack is made more “kid-friendly” with the addition of pictures of animals that really do “jump” on the front of the sack—kangaroos, rabbits and frogs—and with two sets of handles to accommodate any age (3 to 103 years young!)  One set of handles is on the inside of the sack for little hands and the other is on the outside of the sack for bigger hands.  Once your body is standing inside the sack, there is only way to move from one place to another and that is by grasping the handles and using both feet to JUMP up and down. Hopping is on one foot and is not a recommended way to travel while in a sack.  It is best to play the following activities outside on the grass or on any cushioned or matted surface.  Whether you’re playing a game or competing in a race, you’ll have fun and experience success—no matter what your size!

Objectives/Learning Outcomes:
Playing and using the sacks promotes and develops…

1.  Overall physical fitness—cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, muscular strength and endurance.
2.  Gross motor development—using the large muscles of the arms, legs and trunk.
3.  Bilateral coordination—using both sides of the body at the same time in unison as in jumping.
4.  Eye-foot coordination—eyes and feet working together smoothly to meet a challenge.
5.  Spatial awareness—coordinated movement in relationship to other objects in the environment.
6.  Balance—being able to hold the position of the body through the interaction of muscles working together (maintaining body equilibrium) whether the body is stationary (static balance) or moving (dynamic balance).
7.  Cooperation and teamwork—2 or more people working and playing together rather than against one another, just for the fun of it.
8.  Fun— playful actions providing amusement and enjoyment.
9.  Listening skills—ability to follow verbal directions.

Games & Activities

Animals Jump                                                                                 Ages:  3 – 5

Set Up:
1. Players scattered in open space.
2. One jumping sack for each player.

Procedure:
1. Before starting this activity, discuss with the group about what jumps and what doesn’t.
2. An adult or child who understands the concept of the activity is selected to be the leader of the game.
3. Players stand inside jumping sack but do not hold handles.
4. The leader shouts out various things that jump.
5. Each time the leader names anything that “jumps” the players grab the handles of the sack, pulling it up, and jump up and down vigorously (e.g., “frogs jump,” “rabbits jump,” “kangaroos jump,” “crickets jump,” etc.).
6. If the leader names something that does not jump, players let go of their bags and stand motionless (e.g., “elephants jump,” “worms jump,” “tables jump,” etc.).

Animals Find Your Home                                                             Ages:  3 – 5

Set Up:
1. One animal jumping sack and one hoop or shape spot marker for each player.
2. Arrange hoops or spot markers in a large circle equally spaced apart.

Procedure:
1.  Position each player (standing in jumping sack) in a hoop or on a spot (the hoop or spot is their “home”).
2.  One player in a sack stands in the center of the circle without a hoop or spot  and calls out, “KANGAROO (name of animal sack they are in)  WANTS A HOME!” (e.g. “RABBIT WANTS A HOME!”).  All animals (including the one standing in the center) must leave their home (hoop or spot) and jump to a different and vacant spot or hoop.
3.  One player will be left without a hoop or a spot and should then take his or her place in the center as the next animal home shopper.
4.  The game continues until everyone has had a turn to be a new “home shopper.”  If “home shoppers” are too slow in finding a new spot or hoop, an adult or leader may pick the next home shopper randomly.

Listen & Jump                                                                                 Ages:  3 – 5

Set Up:
1. Players scattered in open space.
2. One jumping sack for each player.
3. CD player and lively upbeat music.

Procedure:
1.  First ask the players to jump in place when the music starts.
2.  When the music stops, the players are to stop and maintain their balance while standing in the sack.
3.  Challenge the players to jump freely around the open space while the music is playing.
4.  The game continues with the starting and stopping of the music.

Animal Facts                                                                                   Ages:  5 and up

Set Up:
1.  “Start” and “Finish” lines or boundaries using cones, ropes or other markers placed a maximum of 12 – 20 feet apart.
2.  One jumping sack for each player.

Procedure:
1.  Each player stands behind the boundary or start line at least an arms width apart from each other.
2.  Each player gets into an animal sack, pulls it up, and holds onto the size-appropriate handle.  Make sure each player knows which animal sack they are in—kangaroo, rabbit or frog.
3.  An adult or child who understands the concept of the activity is selected to be the leader of the game.
4.  The leader of this activity calls out animal facts and if the information is correct for the animal—kangaroo, rabbit or frog— that player(s) in the appropriate sack jumps forward one jump.
5.  Each time a fact is called out, the matching animal or animals jump forward one jump.  If the animal fact does not apply to the animals, nobody jumps forward.
6.  The game ends when all the animals cross the finish line.

Some Animal Facts or Characteristics that you can use in playing this game:
Ask questions appropriate for the ages of children playing.
Encourage the children to add more animal facts to this list.

This animal lays eggs (frog).
This animal is a mammal (rabbit, kangaroo).
A tadpole becomes one of these (frog).
Bunny is another name for this animal (rabbit).
This animal’s skin is smooth (frog).
This animal eats grass (rabbit, kangaroo).
A group of these animals is a herd (kangaroo).
Babies are called joeys (kangaroo).
This animal is a marsupial mammal (kangaroo).
This animal is an amphibian (frog).

Races & Relays

Individual Jumping Races                                                           Ages:  5 and up

Set Up:
1.  “Start” and “Finish” lines or boundaries using cones, ropes or other markers placed a minimum of 12 feet apart (place farther apart for older ages).
2.  One jumping sack for each player.

Procedure:
1.  Each player stands behind the boundary or start line at least an arms width apart from each other.
2.  Each player gets into a sack, pulls it up, and holds onto the size-appropriate handle.
3.  On the signal “GO!” players jump to the finish line.
4.  Every player who crosses the finish line is a winner!

Variations:
1.  Have players try and beat their own previous time.
2.  If not enough sacks for everyone, let those watching be cheerleaders and encourage the players by rooting for their favorite animal—“Go Rabbits!” or “Jump Frogs Jump!” etc.

Animal Team Jumping Races                                                     Ages: 5 and up

Set Up:
1.  “Start” and “Finish” lines or boundaries using cones, ropes or other markers placed a maximum of 12 – 20 feet apart.
2.  One jumping sack for each player.

Procedure:
1.  Players pair up or group together by the type of animal on their sack.
2.  Each animal team lines up single file behind the starting line.
3.  On the signal “GO!” players jump to the finish line, turn around, jump back to the start line.
4.   Upon crossing the start line the next player in the same animal team jumps to the finish line, turns around, and jumps back to the start line.
5.  Game continues until each animal player in the team has a turn.

Variations:
A.  Have same animals stand across from each other on opposite sides of the boundary lines. When one team member jumps across the line, the next team member on that side jumps to the other side and crosses the opposite boundary line.
B.  Make animal teams consisting of equal numbers of kangaroos, rabbits and frogs.

Three-Legged Animal Race                                                        Ages:  5 and up

Set Up:

1.  “Start” and “Finish” lines or boundaries using cones, ropes or other markers placed a maximum of 12 – 20 feet apart.
2.  One jumping sack for each two-person team.

Procedure:
1.  Players pair up and become a two-person team and pick an animal sack of their choice.
2.  Each team stands side-by-side and puts the leg closest to each other in the jumping sack, standing behind the starting line.
3.  On the signal “GO!” each two-person team jumps to the finish line.
4.  Every team who crosses the finish line is a winner!

Variation:
1.  This race can be done as a relay too, with additional two-person teams in the same animal sacks (kangaroos, rabbit or frog) in a line behind the same type animal team.  The first pair crosses the finish line, gets out of their sacks and runs back to the starting line, tagging the next members of their animal team, permitting them to now race to the finish line.

Discount School Supply® Product Recommendations:
Animal Hopping Sacks – set of 6 (HOPPY)
Brawny Tough Activity Hoops – set of 15 (HOOPSET)
Shapes Spots – set of 18 (SHSPOT)
Hamilton™ AM/FM CD Player (BOOMBOX)
Popular Children’s Songs CDs – set of 4 (TODCDS)
Colored Cones – set of 10 (SETC)
7′ Nylon Jump Ropes – set of 3 (RPST)